Facing Facts… All of Them!

Delusions are really dangerous. Denying reality abdicates responsibility only at our own peril. It is not that pretty bad and awful “things” are happening — people, human beings, are doing those pretty nasty, horrible things to one another. We can turn a blind eye, deluding ourselves with denial — the consequences are lethal.

All the more reason to open our eyes, face reality — all of it!  There are some hopeful and positive things happening amid the mass exodus of Christians from Iraq and the carnage of war in Gaza. We imperil ourselves if we shut-down, look away, aren’t paying attention.

Case in point… what percentage of people in Minneapolis-St Paul do you think are even aware that the Muslim community is nearing the end of the Holy Month of Ramadan? Media reports would reenforce the dangerous delusion that Christian, Jewish and Muslim relations are accurately symbolized by perennial strife in the Middle East.  Not true — or at least it need not be so!

There is a wonderful story out of London that gets buried in the on-slot of bad news. Just like Ramadan (ends at sundown, July 28), I bet virtually none of us are aware of the courageous and inspiring actions of Rabbi Natan Levy. He has stunned members of the Jewish community across England by observing the Islamic month of fasting. [link]

Like millions of Muslims across the globe, for 30 days, he will not eat or drink from sunrise and sundown and refrain from sexual intercourse. The 40-year-old religious leader said he was encouraged to take part after witnessing first-hand the lack of engagement between Judaism and Islam.

“I hope this gets us thinking and talking as a community about two things; the hungry poor in our midst, both Jewish and non-Jewish. Ramadan is a time for charity and hungry people care about hungry people,” he told the Jewish News in London.

Some of us will remember that Pope John Paul gathered leaders of the world’s religions at Assisi to pray for peace shortly after 9/11. How many Americans are aware that in the very same overture he encouraged Catholics around the world to fast on the last day of Ramadan 2001 (December 17) as prayer for peace and gesture of mutual understanding? The dominant political rhetoric of the moment buried that part of the pope’s appeal and it went virtually unreported.

Yet prophetic actions like those of John Paul and Rabbi Levy are happening still and closer to home. Each year the Muslim community of Minneapolis-St Paul shares a Dialogue Iftar Dinner to which non-Muslims are invited. “Iftar” is the name for the meal at sunset that breaks the day’s fast.  This year the dinner will be held in North Star Ballroom at University of Minnesota at 7:30 PM on Saturday, July 26th. I feel honored to have been invited.

None of us can put an end to the animosity that grips the Israelis and Palestinians. We cannot protect the Christians fleeing the perversion of religion in Iraq. But’s let’s not succumb to negativity and despair, deluding our ourselves that we can do nothing. Yes, we face some pretty painful facts. But open our eyes we must! We can change the reality in which we choose to live.

Here is a simple suggestion… what if we each called our churches and asked that a prayer in solidarity with our Muslim brothers and sisters concluding the Holy Month of Ramadan be included in our services this Sunday? Our prayers for world peace can become so rote and anemic as to be meaningless. Why not make our prayer explicit in a way that might actually transform our attitudes and actions?

Who was it that said, “There is no one so blind as the one who will not see.”? Let’s celebrate and create real evidence that humans — yes, even those we hate and kill as well as those we love and embrace — are created in the image of God. No exceptions!

Bottoms Up!

We don’t need much proof. Margaret Meade didn’t tell us anything we didn’t already know. She just had a gift for putting it in eloquent language: Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.

Just look at Pope Francis! My brother retired from a thirty-year career in the Army. After Francis’ trip to the Middle East, Fred commented on June 10 to a post I had made here. He described the Pope’s visit as “a major event which will contribute far more to world peace than all the armies and diplomats have in recent years.”

But there seems to be an essential corollary to Meade’s incisive summation and to the potential expressed in the papal visit. True leaders appreciate this fact: real change has to bubble up from the grassroots. Decrees from on-high are typically ignored, as well they should be. Meade captured this in crediting “thoughtful, committed citizens” for the change the world needs.

With that as my prompt, and inspired by my brother, I decided to engage in some “bottoms up” action. Yesterday I chose to participate in Sunday liturgy at St. Mary’s Greek Orthodox Church. My motivation was to give grass-roots expression to that which Pope Francis and Patriarch Bartholomew expressed in their joint statement from Jerusalem:

Our fraternal encounter today is a new and necessary step on the journey towards the unity to which only the Holy Spirit can lead us, that of communion in legitimate diversity…

Thus we affirm once again that the theological dialogue does not seek a theological lowest common denominator on which to reach a compromise, but is rather about deepening one’s grasp of the whole truth that Christ has given to his Church, a truth that we never cease to understand better… Hence, we affirm together that our faithfulness to the Lord demands fraternal encounter and true dialogue.

United in our intentions, … we call upon all Christians, together with believers of every religious tradition and all people of good will, to recognize the urgency of the hour that compels us to seek the reconciliation and unity of the human family…”

The pope and patriarch are not telling us anything we don’t already know! We need wise leadership to give us proof by their actions that what we know we need is in fact possible. We, the grassroots, have a reciprocal obligation to change our ways and adjust our attitudes. We need to shake things up like the pilgrimage to Jerusalem and the Pentecost Prayer service at the Vatican changed dynamics.

I absolutely do not want to sound preachy, pedantic or like a know-it-all. However, I do feel a passionate urgency. For your convenience and encouragement, here are some ways we can give our prophetic leaders a grassroots foundation on which to build:

  • Prayerfully reflect upon the relatively short Joint Declaration by Pope Francis and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew (25 May, 2014). It is only ten paragraphs long and is available [link].
  • Read Patriarch Bartholomew’s Encountering the Mystery: Understanding Orthodox Christianity Today (2008). I ordered my copy from the used book section on Amazon for $2.58 plus $3.99 postage.   Better yet, host a book club discussion with friends who share your interest.
  • Go to Sunday liturgy at your local Greek Orthodox Church. Be prepared for a rich cultural experience and a service that is likely to last 90 minutes. I went asking that God remove all that divides us, for the grace of curiosity and gift “of communion in legitimate diversity”. True confession: I left with sensory overload (not a bad thing) and did not have the energy to plunge into “coffee hour” – next time!

Let’s never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed folks can change the world from the bottom up. Indeed, it’s the only thing that really will. Let’s give our leadership legs to stand on!  We can be the change the world needs!

Believe It or Not!

Some things just need to be believed in order to be seen!

I chuckled in disbelief. Are we so blind? Are our cultural filters so thick and our beliefs so constricted that we cannot see what just happened?

Yet, it went virtually unreported in the American media. No one I heard or read – with only one obscure exception – even alluded to the significance of what just happened.

Is this the sort of incredulity Mary Magdalene felt as she ran from the tomb to tell the frightened disciples whom she had just encountered? Is this the uncontainable impulse that transformed those gathered in the Upper Room into bold messengers?

What did you see or hear about the Prayer for Peace at the Vatican 48 hours ago on Pentecost Sunday? CNN World reported it as “Mahmoud Abbas and Shimon Peres pray with Pope Francis for Mideast peace” [link]. American media did a typically adequate job covering the historic gathering. But it was predictable in content and routine in style, almost tired edging toward trite.

Watch the video for yourself! What do you see? Here is the [link] again. CNN World is as good and representative as any. Even the Catholic News Service was equally narrow in its perspective — perhaps that can be presumed, though not excused, given its “Roman” self interests.

Do you notice Patriarch Bartholomew? He appears three times in the video coverage but remains unmentioned, seemingly as incidental as the musical interlude. Wait a minute! Does anyone recognize how monumentally significant his presence is?

It was within my own lifetime (1964) that the Bishop of Rome and the Patriarch of Constantinople lifted their 900 year-long excommunication of each other. Today they are partners in ministry and referring to each other as “brothers”. What we saw on Sunday at the Vatican was virtually inconceivable on the day most of us reading this blog were born.

Media seems oblivious to the shift in tectonic plates we just saw. Yet, that shift portends great hope for the future of Christian unity and how Christians understand ourselves as “church”. Partisan obstinacies and political intransigence are not the sole preserve of nation-states! On a practical level, think of the potential this “united front” holds for the protection of the struggling Christian minority in the Middle East.

Watch the video again. Listen and look even more carefully this time [link]. It took an obscure secondary reference on Twitter for me to learn something totally missed by American media — For the first time in history, Islamic prayers were offered and readings from the Quran were proclaimed at the Vatican! It took a staff writer from Al Arabyia News – Middle East to bring that to my awareness [link].  That in itself is a huge step forward toward world peace.  This in itself transforms all future Inter-Faith dialogue.  Imagine its potential for improving relations between peoples of differing faiths.

Yes, some things need to be believed to be seen. But they are true! The world is changing – too often the pace is excruciatingly slow and the evidence imperceptible. But God is persistent, patient and insistent.

We have reason to believe!

Intolerable Cost of Ignorance

I don’t know what I was thinking – apparently, I wasn’t. It just never occurred to me! Objectively speaking I am fortunate to have been given a pretty decent education.  Call it blinders or tunnel-vision, the fact is my perspective on world cultures, other religions or the great wisdom traditions is dismally shallow. My knowledge is narrow and sectarian.

This weekend is a case in point… Isn’t Pentecost the day the Holy Spirit descended upon the apostles and thus the founding of the church? Well, yes. But it’s really so much more! It’s never occurred to me before that the apostles weren’t just sitting around together because they were afraid, waiting for the Holy Spirit to show up.

Pentecost is not a Christian invention. The disciples were gathered together in fidelity to the Jewish feast of Shavu’ot, the Festival of Weeks! It is the second of the three major Jewish pilgrimage festivals, the others being Passover and Sukkoth (commemorating the wandering in the desert).

Although it also is the time when first fruits were brought to the Temple, Shavu’ot celebrates the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai. Jews count from the second day of Passover to the day before Shavu’ot, 49 days to celebrate the vital connection between Passover and Shavu’ot. The festival is also known as Pentecost, because it falls on the 50th day.

The period from Passover to Shavu’ot is marked by great anticipation! Passover freed God’s chosen people physically from bondage. The giving of the Torah on Shavu’ot redeems them “spiritually” by establishing the terms of their covenant relationship with God.

I wish I had known this earlier! Overlays with Christianity are so obvious and rich. Ignorance has resulted in too much suffering and missed opportunities! Really too bad — my loss!

It is significant that Shavu’ot is called the time of the giving of the Torah, rather than the time of the receiving of the Torah. Rabbis point out that Jews are constantly in the process of receiving the Torah, it is to be received every day. Isn’t this true for all of us?

We can start fresh by fostering a climate of genuine curiosity and committing ourselves to become better listeners. Let’s also foster the even nobler human impulse – typically “maternal” – to instinctively seek reconciliation in a family and gather all the children together as one.

What better place to begin than in the spirit of the prayer for peace at the Vatican. It begins on Pentecost at 12 noon in Minneapolis, 7 p.m. in Rome. The inspiring text of the service has been released and is available [here]. 

At our home we will be lighting a candle as described in my [post] last Wednesday. Despite the marvelous prayers available in the “official” program given on the link above, I am drawn to the simple Prayer to the Holy Spirit I learned as a kid:

Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of Your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love. Send forth Your Spirit and they shall be created. And You shall renew the face of the earth. O, God, who by the light of the Holy Spirit, did instruct the hearts of the faithful, grant that by the same Holy Spirit we may be truly wise and ever enjoy Your consolations, Through Christ Our Lord, Amen.

Pope Francis, Patriarch Bartholomew and Presidents Abbas and Peres will plant an olive tree in the Vatican Gardens at the conclusion of their prayer service. We have been planning to replace a wild rose bush in our garden along the street. We will do that on Pentecost with more intentionality, dedicating it to peace in Jerusalem and among the three great religions that make up the family of Abraham.

The cost of our ignorance is intolerable. The price of sectarian narrowness and tunnel-vision is death. We must get over it!

O, God, who by the light of the Holy Spirit, did instruct the hearts of the faithful, grant that by the same Holy Spirit we may be truly wise.

___________

This year Shavu’ot was commemorated from Tuesday evening, June 3 through Thursday evening, June 5.

 

Pray — Now, Often and Hard

It’s time to pray. Start now. Pray often. Pray hard!

This Sunday – Pentecost — Presidents Mahmoud Abbas and Shimon Peres will arrive at the home of Pope Francis in the Vatican. Francis explained that their meeting is not a diplomatic initiative or mediation, but only a prayer for peace.

It was officially confirmed yesterday that Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew II will be joining them.   The presence of the Successor of the Apostle Andrew next to the Successor of the Apostle Peter is a poignant sign of a deep and abiding commitment for peace in the Holy Land.

Such unity-in-practice between the Roman and Orthodox churches is already a major breakthrough and bodes well for what the Spirit has in mind for the gathering on Sunday.

Yes, we all should join in the spirit and energy of this prayer. Start now. Pray often. Pray hard.

Here’s a practical suggestion – light a candle. Let it be a tangible sign of the “tongues of fire” we hope will descend on the patriarch, pontiff and presidents this Pentecost – indeed, on all people of good will.

Most supermarkets carry 24-hour memorial candles. I found mine in the section of the store that also offers Sabbath supplies. Mine is the familiar Manischewitz brand. What if we all lit such a candle this Sunday asking for a fresh out-pouring of God’s empowering presence?

Whatever our expressions of prayer may take, let’s pray remembering that we not only need to change the hearts of world leaders.  Many human hearts need to be transformed, beginning with our own.

Here is one prayer for peace adapted from the inter-faith Week of Prayer for World Peace website:

Lead us from death to life,
from falsehood to truth.
Lead us from despair to hope,
from fear to trust.
Lead us from hate to love,
from war to peace.
Let peace fill our hearts, our world, our universe.

In our prayer let us pray with the first Pentecost in mind:

When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.  Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard their own language being spoken. (Acts 2:1-6)

Yes, may it be so. Let it be. Let it be.

 

 

 

Tearing Down Walls

Actors on the world stage have the capacity to transform lives and open vistas with plain words and simple gestures. Who can forget President Reagan standing with the Brandenburg Gate as backdrop on June 12, 1987? In rhetoric blazoned in human consciousness he altered world events: “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!”

Pope Francis seems to have dramatically altered Middle East politics as well. Who can forget that photo of his apparently unscripted stop en route to Bethlehem? At yet another wall dividing warring factions, Francis achieved something remarkably simple with astonishing power. Francis touched the wall, bent his head and prayed. After kissing the wall, he walked slowly back to his vehicle.

Last evening we attended the Abrahamic Traditions Dinner sponsored by the local chapter of the Niagara Foundation. As the name suggests the annual event is an occasion for Muslims, Jews and Christians to come together in faith to share a meal and conversation.

The dinner was officially sponsored by six “usual suspects” – the Jay Phillips Center at the University of St. Thomas, a Jewish community relations group, the Islamic Center, etc. Held in a ballroom of the St. Paul campus student center of the U of M, we enjoyed an atmosphere that was anything but “formal” and certainly not stuffy!

The dinner was free and no appeal for contributions was made. The food was paid for, prepared and served by the local Turkish American Society (the Turkish community in MSP numbers a surprisingly small 1500 people). My favorite was the hand wrapped grape leaves and the exquisitely sweet yet crisp baklava!

Of course, we expressed frustration with the intransigence of issues that have long divided the Abrahamic religions. Prayers were sung in Hebrew and Arabic. Truths were told and acknowledged. There were no diplomatic breakthroughs or moments emblazoned in world consciousness.

Mostly, we shared stories – expressions of hope and experiences of simple decency, sacred stories. An Egyptian told of Christian neighbors sheltering their frightened children on 9/11. A Jewish man found common ground with Muslims around what it means to be a religious minority in America. We shaped plans for Christians to share a day of fasting during Ramadan concluding with a shared meal after sunset.

No grand proclamations to world leaders. No dramatic photo ops here will light up cyber-space. Perhaps the most we can claim is fulfillment of the dinner’s 2014 theme: Neighbors & Neighborhoods. The descriptors Muslim and Jew now have names – Ozer, Murat, Hamdy, Jamilah, Serkan.

We cannot change the world! But, we can change our world. Last evening in Saint Paul we did just that – with plain words and simple gestures we tore down a few walls!

Taking Another’s Place

Who will take her place? Brilliant, elegant, articulate, iconic! Who could possibly take her place? Maya Angelou not only personified America at our best, she had a unique gift and fierce zeal for revealing humanity at our best.

“I am gay,” Maya Angelou told a gathering of an estimated 4,000 predominantly LGBT people celebrating gay and lesbian choruses in 1996. She then paused and continued: “I am lesbian. I am black. I am white. I am Native American. I am Christian. I am Jew. I am Muslim.”

I don’t know her religious heritage or affiliations. My belief is she transcended narrow definitions and denominational pettiness. She did manifest a mature and passionate concern for the dire state of religious practice in a poem certainly worthy of the Hebrew prophets: 

Savior

Petulant priests, greedy
centurions, and one million
incensed gestures stand
between your love and me. 

Your agape sacrifice
is reduced to colored glass,
vapid penance, and the
tedium of ritual.

Your footprints yet
mark the crest of
billowing seas but
your joy
fades upon the tablets
of ordained prophets.

Visit us again, Savior. 

Your children, burdened with
disbelief, blinded by a patina
of wisdom,
carom down this vale of
fear. We cry for you
although we have lost
your name.

But Maya Angelou’s brilliance is not found in petulance. Her iconic status is not founded upon her inimitable eloquence. Quite the contrary!

Maya Angelou’s insight and brilliance was nothing more than her willingness to embrace the shared humanity of all people—regardless of race, gender, or religion—and she prodded everyone to embrace our common humanity as well.

We salute the Apostle Paul for his ability to proclaim: Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible… I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. (1 Cor 9)

Paul exhorts: In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;  rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. (Phil 2)

Who will take Maya Angelou’s place of distinction is totally beside the point! My hunch is she would reject that speculation as trivial and trite. Rather, I am certain she would exhort each and all of us to proclaim with passion and eloquence: “I am gay. I am lesbian. I am black. I am white. I am Native American. I am Christian. I am Jew. I am Muslim.”

_________________

I am indebted to Out magazine for the 1996 quote and my initial inspiration [link]. 

Savior © Maya Angelou is from The Complete Collected Poems of Maya Angelou. Random House. 1994., p 250.

Start of Construction Season

Pray! We all need to pray really hard this weekend. Yes, it’s Memorial Day. However, I am talking about today’s tweet from @Pontifex: “Dear friends, please pray for me during my pilgrimage to the Holy Land.” We all need to take him at his word.

I love that Pope Francis chose @Pontifex as his name on Twitter. It comes from one of the most significant roles traditionally ascribed to the Bishop of Rome, Supreme Pontiff. As King Abdullah astutely noted in welcoming Francis to Jordan this morning, “pontiff” means bridge-builder!

Francis will have a packed agenda praying at holy Christian sites, mutually extending overtures of good will with Orthodox Christians as well as Jews, bringing hope to a diminishing Christian minority in the Middle East, offering moral weight to the stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

We should all be praying really hard these days that this Pontiff achieves something successful in spanning the gaping, perilous divide between Christians and Muslims. Of all that Francis will attempt, this probably has the most profound consequences for the lives our grandchildren.

Francis appears to understand the stakes. Some of the first words out of his mouth upon landing were: “I take this opportunity to reiterate my profound respect and esteem for the Muslim community.”

He then praised King Abdullah’s efforts to promote “better understanding of the virtues taught by Islam” and create a climate of interreligious understanding. It should be noted that as a descendent of Muhammad the king has diligently “tried to uphold true Islam, a religion of peace.”

Today’s words and gestures extend a series of overtures. Who can forget Francis washing the feet of women and a Muslim at the Roman juvenile detention center during his first Holy Thursday liturgy after being elected pope? Well he did it again this past Spring in washing the feet of a disabled 75-year-old Muslim man.

Last summer, the pope released a personal Ramadan greeting to the world’s Muslims, calling it “an expression of esteem and friendship for all Muslims.” In the past this greeting is typically extended by the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue.

In September, Francis sent a letter to the grand imam of Al-Azhar, a prominent Islamic university in Cairo, calling for a “mutual understanding between the world’s Christians and Muslims in order to build peace and justice.”

In another first, Francis will be accompanied by an Argentine rabbi and an Islamic scholar. “Imagine what could be the power if you saw the pope and a rabbi go into a place where Jews traditionally cannot or do not go, or a Muslim doing the same.” observed a Vatican spokesman.

Yes, pray for this Pontiff’s success. Pray that Francis succeeds in laying a few strong pilings. But we are all laborers – each and all of us are called to bridge the divide separating neighbors and nations, constructing an edifice of peace built on mutual respect and the inherent dignity of every person.
______________
I have relied on an [article] by Jaweed Kaleem for quotes and late-braking facts.

We Have Much to Learn

Despite pretensions to the contrary, my knowledge of great world religions other than Christianity is woefully deficient. You might say a one-size-fits-all superficiality characterizes my understanding. I claim to be fascinated with other cultures and peoples but I am still trapped in caricatures and stereotypes.  My loss!

As a Roman Catholic I should know better. Too many presume we all walk in lock-step – granted, too many in the hierarchy wish that were the case! But it’s not as if the Pope sneezes and we all catch cold! Many of us would not survive if that were the case, nor should we!

In the spirit of pushing back against stereotypes and caricatures, I was fascinated to learn that Rabbi Israel ben Eliezer of Mezbizk died on this day in 1760. He was honored with the appellation “Master of the Good Name” as founder of Hasidic Judaism. That title is Baal Shem Tov in Hebrew, thus he came to be commonly known as the “Besht”.

The rabbi has much to teach all people of good will about faith and the spiritual life. Rather than providing a set of teachings, the Besht “communicated his lessons through a certain attitude, a spirit of joy, an instinct for the holiness of experience.” Thus, his followers inspired so many they came to be known as the “pious ones,” the Hasidim.

The Besht was born into a Ukraine still reeling from brutal persecution in which more than a hundred thousand Jews had lost their lives. Within this world of suffering, he proclaimed a “mysticism of the everyday.” Within each task and each moment, regardless of how mundane, there resides a spark of the divine.

The Besht opposed excessive asceticism just as he opposed a preoccupation with the law. Each person is called to discover and express the potential holiness imbedded in the everyday and ordinary. And, this was all to be grounded in a pervasive spirit of joy. He spoke of prayer as a window to heaven and called the entire world a house of prayer.

We have the twentieth century Jewish philosopher Martin Buber to thank for popularizing the stories and example of the Baal Shem Tov and early Hasidic masters well beyond their home in Eastern Europe. Though not himself a Hasid, Buber recognized that Hasidic spirituality carries a universal message especially relevant to the secularized West.

Buber summarized the Besht’s consecration of everyday life to God this way: “The human task, of everyone, according to Hasidic teaching, is to affirm for God’s sake the world and oneself and by this very means to transform both.”

The large Hasidic community in Eastern Europe was largely extinguished by the Nazis. Vibrant communities in the United States and Israel continue to give expression to the joyful and compassionate vision of the Baal Shem Tov.

We have much to learn! We have much to learn!

_____________________

I am entirely indebted to All Saints: Daily Reflections on Saints, Prophets, and Witnesses for Our Times by Robert Ellsberg (Crossroads, 1999) pp. 224-5 for this reflection.

A Hopi Elder Speaks

“You have been telling the people that this is the Eleventh Hour, now you must go back and tell the people that this is the Hour. And there are things to be considered…

Where are you living?

What are you doing?

What are your relationships?

Are you in right relation?

Where is your water?

Know your garden.

It is time to speak your Truth.

Create your community.

Be good to each other.

And do not look outside yourself for the leader.”

Then he clasped his hands together, smiled, and said, “This could be a good time!”

“There is a river flowing now very fast. It is so great and swift that there are those who will be afraid. They will try to hold on to the shore. They will feel they are torn apart and will suffer greatly.

“Know the river has its destination. The elders say we must let go of the shore, push off into the middle of the river, keep our eyes open, and our heads above water. And I say, see who is in there with you and celebrate. At this time in history, we are to take nothing personally. Least of all ourselves. For the moment that we do, our spiritual growth and journey comes to a halt.

“The time for the lone wolf is over. Gather yourselves! Banish the word ‘struggle’ from your attitude and your vocabulary. All that we do now must be done in a sacred manner and in celebration.

“We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.”

— Hopi elder, Oraibi,AZ